SMS Marketing – A Beginner’s Guide (Tips, Benefits, Examples)

sms-marketing

SMS marketing is a new method of advertising that has been growing in popularity.

With the rise of smartphones and text messaging, many businesses have begun to use this form of marketing as a way to reach their customers.

In fact, it has been predicted that SMS Marketing will become one of the most popular forms of marketing in the 2030s!

If you’re looking to get started with your own SMS marketing, this is a great resource.

In this guide blog, we will dive deep into the following topics:

  1. What SMS marketing is
  2. The importance of SMS marketing
  3. Writing messages for SMS marketing
  4. How to create a successful SMS campaign
  5. Fantastic examples of SMS marketing campaigns done right
  6. Creating an SMS campaign on EngageBay

Happy reading!


What is SMS Marketing?

SMS is an acronym for Short Message Service.

It’s a method of sending text messages on mobile devices, using a mobile network.

In the early days of modern text messaging back in the 2000s, SMS was the main method for communicating through text. As it turns out, SMS existed even before then, with SMS messages sent as early as 1992.

EngageBay SMS marketing
An SMS Marketing dashboard in EngageBay

This brings us to the definition of SMS marketing: Short Message Service marketing. It’s a form of marketing where companies use short texts to send out important updates, offers, and other reminders directly to the customers’ mobile phones. 

Grow your business with EngageBay’s powerful SMS marketing suite.

SMS messages are not the same as the texts you send from other social media applications like Facebook and Instagram. Others include Japan’s Line, China’s WeChat, Viber, and WhatsApp business — these are Internet Protocol or IP-based text messaging.

Why is SMS Marketing Important?

  • You Can Track Crucial Metrics
  • You Can Engage More with Leads and Customers
  • You Get to Know Your Audience
  • SMS Fits in with Most Other Marketing Campaign Tools
  • Shortcodes Make the Lives of Your Customers Easier
  • SMS is All about the Here and Now

Mailed letters can get tossed straight in the trash bin, and emails can get flagged as spam, but text messages? Sure, there are filters on those, but they have a higher chance of being seen.

Whether the recipient engages with the message is another story and something we’ll discuss later. You can ensure your message is at least seen though, and that’s half the battle.

That’s one of the main reasons we’d say launching an SMS marketing campaign is so important. If you’re still not convinced, that’s okay.

Here are several more reasons to incentivize you to consider using SMS text marketing.

 

You Can Track Crucial Metrics

Text messages may seem like the unregulated wild west in that you’re just sending out messages with no idea what happens to them.

Sure, today’s IP-based messages tell you when a message was delivered and even if it was read and when thanks to ‘read’ receipts.

However, you don’t get much more in-depth information than that. Well, unless you want to.

sms marketing metrics
Source: Beambox

With SMS marketing, you can track the metrics that matter most to you and your company’s success. Some SMS marketing metrics that businesses will focus on in their campaigns are as follows:

  • ROI: You can review your return on investment for a single campaign or several SMS marketing campaigns. The more revenue you bring in, the more successful your campaigns are.
  • Acquisition cost per subscriber: There’s no handy acronym for this one. With this SMS marketing metric, you’re looking at how much money you spent on acquiring a subscriber. Essentially, how much cash did you have to put forth with your text message marketing before you converted the lead to a customer? Was it more or less than you usually spend on conversions with other marketing strategies?
  • Response rate: A response rate isn’t about who saw your SMS text message but rather who did something with it. For instance, if you sent a link, who clicked it? If you texted about a deal, who bought it?
  • Attrition rate: Not all SMS marketing statistics are positive. The attrition rate measures how many people unsubscribe from your SMS marketing messages. It’s inevitable that you’ll lose some subscribers, but they shouldn’t be leaving in droves. If they have, maybe it’s because of the type of content you’re sending. You could also be messaging too often or not often enough. We’ll talk more about the ideal SMS frequency later.
  • List size: The opposite of the attrition rate, the list size tells you how many active subscribers you currently have. You want this number to keep growing steadily.
  • List growth rate: You could track growth as often as weekly or more seldom, like monthly or even annually.
sms marketing metrics
Source: Beambox

You Can Engage More with Leads and Customers

If there’s one facet of developing a professional relationship with customers that you cannot ignore, that’s engagement.

Whether you encourage your customers to set up an appointment, check out a deal, or send them an update about an upcoming product or service, SMS marketing messaging like this increases customer engagement.

You Get to Know Your Audience

No, we’re not talking about having a back-and-forth text conversation with each member of your audience. It could happen, but it more than likely won’t.

Instead, you can use your SMS marketing campaign as an opportunity to send out surveys. The feedback you can generate from these surveys can prove very valuable.

According to marketing data, as much as 31% of your audience might answer your survey. That’s admittedly not a lot, but those who do will answer within five minutes of receiving the message.

So sure, you have a smaller sample size, but the rate at which you can get feedback is so quick it’s almost instantaneous.

What other types of media let you get that near-instant response?

contact list

SMS Fits in with Most Other Marketing Campaign Tools

What kinds of tools do you use to drive your current marketing campaigns? We’re sure SMS marketing can play nicely with those tools no matter what you answer.

SMS Marketing texts can support your email and social media campaigns already in action.

For example, you could send a short SMS marketing message encouraging your audience to check out your latest social post or your most recent email newsletter.

By doing so, it’s possible to see up to a 30% boost in the open rates of your emails. Who knew?

Read also: SharpSpring Pricing, Features, and Top 3 Alternatives for Small Businesses

Shortcodes Make the Lives of Your Customers Easier

We’re big fans of doing anything it takes to improve your customers’ lives. After all, by making it very simple for your lead or customer to proceed with an action, you increase the likelihood of conversions.

That’s why long, complicated opt-in forms that ask for more than a name and email address are frowned upon.

Shortcodes will become your new best friend with your SMS-based marketing.

When you ask your SMS text marketing audience to participate in a contest, sign up for alerts, or even opt-in, shortcodes come in handy.

sms marketing shortcodes
Source: Text2Drive

These five-digit codes are easy to remember, thus upping your customers’ chances to join that contest, get alerts, or opt-in.

SMS is All about the Here and Now

A lot of marketing tactics can take time before you see results.

That’s not true with SMS marketing. SMS marketing messages get delivered almost instantly.

Bulk SMS marketing

They get opened almost as soon as the user hears their phone chime. Up to 97% of people open all their text messages, show Smart Insights.

What other medium offers such wonderful results?

Include SMS functionality in your marketing automation workflows at any point with EngageBay

How to Write Messages for an SMS Campaign

  • Formal over Informal
  • Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
  • Keep It Short
  • Don’t Bury the Lead
  • Include a CTA

You can see now how SMS marketing platforms can help your company in myriad ways.

You know you only have 160 characters to convince your reader.

Should you take on a more informal, relaxed tone? Is it better to stay professional, even if that does feel odd in an SMS marketing text message?

Don’t worry. If you’re new to SMS marketing, there are a lot of questions you’ll have at the beginning.

There are also a lot of pitfalls to be aware of in your SMS marketing efforts.

In this section, we’ll tell you the exact tone to take on to get your audience not only to open and read your texts but click links and shop as well.

Formal over Informal

A more informal tone may seem appropriate for text messages, but you have to remember that you’re a business at the end of the day.

If you conduct yourself in an un-businesslike matter, you could turn your customers cold.

You’ve worked hard to craft a brand voice, and that voice must come through loud and clear when sending SMS marketing messages.

That doesn’t mean being devoid of personality, as that will get your texts deleted immediately. It’s okay to inject some personality into your texts, but here are some dos and don’ts to abide by:

  • DO use punctuation, ending each sentence with a period, question mark, exclamation point, etc.
  • DON’T abuse punctuation. If you ask a lot of questions, that can become confusing. Ending every sentence with exclamation points can seem pushy and salesy.
  • DON’T use ALL-CAPS. It’s okay to emphasize a word, like “hot deals going on NOW!” BUT WRITING IN CAPS FEELS RUDE AND CAN SCARE PEOPLE AWAY!
  • DON’T go crazy with emoticons. Remember, you’re a company, not the customer’s friend.
  • DO remember your brand voice with each SMS message you send out.
  • DON’T litter your messages with abbreviations or marketing slang. It may seem hip on your part, but misusing an abbreviation can be embarrassing, so don’t do that. Slang also comes across as unprofessional.

Read also: EngageBay Integrates with VoxCPaas for Easy Calling and SMS

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Like any form of communication, you should always take advantage of chances to personalize with your SMS marketing. For instance, you might say “Hi, [name]” and then write your message.

EngageBay SMS marketing personalization

You could even personalize through broader demographics, including an audience segment’s pain points, occupation, gender, age, or general location.

If you don’t know how to segment your audience, check out some posts on this blog. We have a lot of great articles on lead segmentation and lead scoring.

Keep It Short

This isn’t just a suggestion; it’s the rule. Remember, you have 160 characters. While we can’t say how many words you get out of those characters (because it varies based on word length), you cannot exceed 160 characters.

Then your SMS marketing message could get broken off right in the middle, and that looks unprofessional.

Either way, it’s a great reason to stick within the character limit.

If you remember the old days of Twitter, you could only write in 140 characters back then. Since then, they’ve increased it, but you knew what it was like to be limited.

We recommend writing out your SMS marketing message in full and then running it through a free website like LetterCount.com.

Once you see how many characters you have and how many you are away from 160, you can begin cutting down on your message.

It takes time, but like with anything, the more you practice, the easier it will become. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself crafting short text messages with no difficulty at all.

Don’t Bury the Lead

You don’t want to write a short message and miss the point.

The point of your text should be within the first sentence, maybe the second depending on how you frame it. When you write, you don’t want to bury the lead, so keep that in mind.

Include a CTA

Another reason to come right out with what you have to say? You also need a call to action or CTA in your SMS message.

Now, it’s better to hyperlink this rather than waste characters writing out a lengthy CTA. Not only do you save on character space, but now you have a link for your audience to click.

Again, this makes the customer’s life easier. Imagine if you had a CTA that just said: “for more info, visit our website.”

Sure, the customer might do that, but they’d have to search for your website URL and then click it. That’s a lot of effort with potentially minimal reward, so why would they do it?

When you present the link upfront, all the reader has to do is click. That’s easy enough, so they should do it.

How to Create a Successful SMS Marketing Campaign

  • Don’t Use SMS Marketing Alone
  • Target Your Most Prized Customers
  • Use Metrics to Your Advantage
  • Know When to Send SMS Marketing Messages…
  • …And How Many to Send
  • Give Them a Reason to Stay Engaged
  • Create a Sense of FOMO
  • Don’t Forget Your CTA
  • Always Ask for Permission

While writing your SMS messages correctly is crucial, it’s far from the only important component of succeeding with text marketing.

Next, we will talk about several tips and best practices to follow for your great SMS campaigns.

Don’t Use SMS Alone

We talked about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Text marketing with SMS can be one part of your overall marketing campaign, but it should not comprise the entire thing.

EngageBay multichannel marketing

It works best when used in conjunction with other forms of marketing, including email and social media marketing.

Read also: Pipedrive Alternatives — 5 CRM Tools To Supercharge Your Sales Teams

Target Your Most Prized Customers

When trying something new like SMS marketing, you might decide to roll it out to a very select audience. Then, if you get a good enough reception, you’ll use SMS marketing to reach out to all your audience segments.

You want to start with your top customers, the ones who have referred you to others (whether through a referral program or not), offered feedback, opened your emails, responded to communications, and done lots of shopping.

They’ve stuck with you for a while, and you sense they’re in it for the long haul.

If they like the style and frequency of your SMS messages, then, as we said, follow suit with the rest of your audience.

While you’re only doing SMS marketing selectively, ensure these customers know they’re getting the VIP treatment.

Use Metrics to Your Advantage

Remember at the beginning of this guide when we talked about SMS marketing metrics to watch?

These include ROI, list attrition, list growth, and more.

Well, seriously, make sure you’re generating these metrics and reviewing them at some point. It doesn’t have to be every single week, but definitely monthly.

Without metrics, how will you know how well your campaign has done?

Metrics show what’s working and what’s not.

Think of how many customers and thus revenue you could lose operating like that. Metrics are your friend, so use them.

Read also: 11 Sales Tools for Automation, Prospecting and CRM Integration in 2022

Know When to Send SMS Messages…

If you want to know when to send an email, you can read our blog post about it. Does the same kind of rules apply when sending SMS marketing messages?

You betcha, although the rules are a little more loosey-goosey. This article from SimpleTexting mentions two prime times to focus on.

The first is in the morning between 8 a.m. and noon. The second is later at the end of the day from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. You don’t want to text any later into the evening than 9 o’clock.

2017 data from Mobile Marketer found that rush hour is not an ideal time to send messages.

Mobile Marketer also notes that Monday has the poorest response rate of any weekday. There are a few reasons for this.

Over the weekend, people get bombarded with advertisements on the Internet, social media, in email, their physical mailbox, and on TV.

They might not want to see even one more ad when the week starts. The other reason? It’s Monday. Nuff’ said.

…And How Many to Send

Okay, so you know when to target your audience with SMS messaging, but how many texts should you send?

While it can depend, Upland Software says to stick within the range of four or five a month for a while. That’s no more than two texts weekly.

If your audience is biting, you can send around 10 texts a month, maybe up to 12. You still want to average about a message a day and no more than that.

EngageBay SMS marketing

Their data proves that sending too many texts can lead to a substantial drop in opt-ins. For instance, when you bombard your audience with 29 bulk SMS marketing messages over a month, you could lose up to 40% of them.

Give Them a Reason to Stay Engaged

If your customers are subscribed to your email newsletter and already follow you on social media, why should they opt in to your SMS updates as well?

Doesn’t that seem like overkill?

It will … unless you give them a reason to want to become a part of your SMS marketing list. You want this list to be its entity.

To make it that, try offering exclusives your customers get if they’re receiving SMS updates.

Read also: Which Is Better — HTML or Plain Text Emails?

Create a Sense of FOMO

While we talked about the ideal times to reach out to SMS users, you don’t always have to play strictly by the rules.

SimpleTexting brings up an excellent point to keep in mind as you deliberate when to hit the send button on that text:

“The most helpful tip for deciding when to send messages is determining when you’re most interested in your customers taking action.”

Don’t send out a text on Tuesday afternoon about it if you know you’re having a weekend sale. By the time Friday night arrives, most of your audience will have forgotten about that text. Instead, reach out on Friday afternoon.

Doing so this way gets people ready to take action, as SimpleTexting said.

It can also instill a sense of FOMO or fear of missing out.

No one wants to feel like they’re going to miss something valuable. If you can make your deals sound urgent enough, then your audience will prioritize buying right away.

Don’t Forget Your CTA

Yes, we just talked about it, but here’s another reminder. We also wanted to discuss the types of CTAs you can add to your SMS messages.

These are very short and can be hyperlinked, making them a win-win. Try adding these to your texts:

  • “Buy now,” which is about as straightforward as it gets.
  • “Text to vote,” which works when you’re asking your audience to complete a poll for feedback.
  • “Text to win,” such as during a contest or giveaway.
  • “Click here,” another straightforward CTA that goes perfect with a hyperlink to your online store.
  • “Show discount code,” intended for businesses with brick-and-mortar stores. You’re asking the customer to visit the store, show an employee the text, and then get a discount.

Always Ask for Permission

Have you ever received a text from a stranger? It’s creepy, right? Don’t be that stranger.

Whether through social media, email, or another form of communication, the customer must say it’s okay for you to send them SMS messages.

This may even be a part of your opt-in form.

Read also: What Is a Webinar and How to Use It for Lead Generation

Examples of SMS Marketing Campaigns

You’ve started to write your SMS messages and send them as part of a campaign, but you’re still unsure if you’re doing it right.

That’s why we thought we’d provide a handful of examples of real SMS marketing campaigns in action.

Let them inspire you and drive your way forward into the exciting world of SMS marketing!

SMS marketing example
Source: VoiceSage

The cute picture of a cat in space sipping a Starbucks aside, this message has some valuable content.

We mentioned before how it’s vital that you gain a user’s permission to send SMS messages before you text them.

You should also give them an option to stop these messages. This can happen for any reason, anytime.

Don’t make the customer jump through hoops if they don’t want your SMS text messages.

In this example, to unsubscribe from Starbucks’ SMS, the user only has to type STOP. That’s easy enough.

Here are some more examples of SMS marketing in action:

SMS marketing example
Source: Tatango

As we said before, giving your SMS audience something they can’t get through social media or email newsletters is the right way to build your SMS list.

Here, Stubs members can check their balance and get exclusives and rewards through SMS messaging.

SMS marketing example
Source: VoiceSage

We have talked about how timing is everything with SMS campaigns.

This popsicle business proves as much in this example. It’s late May, so you know it’s pretty toasty out. The text message says as much.

The company then lets the customer get a free popsicle if they stop into the store that same day.

Sounds refreshing, right?

Read also: The Ultimate Guide To Marketing Automation For Small Businesses

Creating an SMS Campaign with EngageBay

If you’re looking for a software for the best SMS marketing, consider EngageBay.

Our range of SMS tools can help you improve your marketing efforts.

Small businesses using SMS may have a boost in productivity and efficiency (61%), better campaign tracking and execution (64%), improved personalization and targeting (66%), and better nurturing and lead management (86%).

SMS marketing

Want to see some of the above numbers for your own small or medium-sized business? EngageBay is a great place to start.

Our SMS campaign services include the following:

  • Campaign optimization and tracking: Watch your campaign grow from beginning to end and then all over again. With EngageBay, you choose the metrics that matter most to you and follow them.
  • Create marketing workflows: EngageBay’s drag and drop designer is super easy to use when making your workflows. These visual marketing workflows make it simpler to streamline your processes and stay on-task.
  • Automate SMS: You can’t always be on your phone sending SMS messages, and that’s okay. Here at EngageBay, we’re especially known for our automation, and it’s no different with our SMS services. We will automate your text messages according to a customer’s behavior, good or bad.
  • Segment your audience: As we’ve touched on, audience segmentation matters. You don’t want your whole audience to receive an offer on men’s shoes, right? Of course not. EngageBay’s wealth of filters lets you target the users you want to text and no one else.
  • SMS personalization: The attributes that matter most when personalizing your SMS text messages, including location, age, and name, are all available with EngageBay.

Engagebay is one of the most affordable SMS marketing software and offers an easy option to track your SMS campaign performance

Did we mention EngageBay offers free SMS marketing? Why not try it today?

Conclusion

SMS marketing uses short message service text messages to convert leads, drive sales, and retain customers.

If you’re not already reaching out to your audience via text, now is as good a time as ever to begin. With the tips, advice, best practices, and examples provided in this guide, you too can be successful in SMS marketing.

EngageBay is an affordable SMS marketing software. You even get SMS marketing in our free-forever plan.

But EngageBay is more than just about SMS marketing. It’s an all-in-one marketing, sales, and customer support software with free integrated CRM.

Sign up now, and see how it can transform your business!

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